Patchwork Duffle

I don’t have PS on my laptop. I use my iPhone for maybe 99 percent of the photos I take these days. I’m waving the white flag and giving up on any pretense of polished perfection in favor of actually writing more than one blog post a year. So if less-than-perfect pictures offend you, you probably want to stop reading my blog.

Life happens. A lot. So here I am, seven months since my last blog post, trying to start anew. So how about I just dive back in?

At Quilt Market in Portland this past spring, I snagged a copy of Bari J‘s Holiday in London Duffle Bag. Bari is one of my favoritest people ever and I really love her aesthetic, so I pretty much had to pick up one of her awesome bag patterns, especially one that had the potential to become my go-to travel bag.

I was itching to make something with a gorgeous range of Michael Miller fabrics we had at the shop. Norwegian Wood plus a bunch of other gorgeous, graphic brights. Elizabeth Hartman’s patchwork Weekender came to mind but I didn’t want to make the Weekender so the patchwork Holiday in London Duffle came into being.

Holiday in L

I picked up 10 fat quarters plus extra cuts for the handles, strap and binding. Oh and separate lining fabric. Yeah, not doing twice the patchwork. As it was, the patchwork, quilt-as-you-go method probably added about eight hours to this project. Why? Because I’m slow and sometimes mess things up and have to figure out a fix midstream.

Holiday in L

I did an easy piecing job by using strips of different widths to fill the space. If you do this, you’ll want to cut the Soft n Stable at least an inch larger all the way around to compensate for how much it pulls in during the quilting process. I forgot this on a couple of pieces and so my bag turned out a wee bit smaller because I had to trim things up to get them to fit together properly. Whoops!

Holiday in L

I tinkered with the straps and handles (and tabs) and just made them into casings to slip cotton canvas webbing through. I really like using webbing for the durability factor and having them covered with fabric pulls together the whole look. I also used my favorite, favorite, favorite Fuse n Wrap piping because it is one of the best inventions ever. Seriously. (Soft n Stable falls under that category, too.)

The instructions were easy to follow and I like how the seams are all encased. If I make this again (and I probably will because I think it will be a great graduation gift), I will attach the bag bottom a little differently because I’m too lazy to do the hand sewing. (What? Have you not met me?)

Holiday in L

I skipped the “faux piping” step at the end because it’s a little on the bulky side and I just wanted to be done with it and start using it. I immediately took it upstairs to show off to Miss L and my Honey because nothing says “I’m done!” quite like show and tell. Ok, I really wanted someone who was not me to ooh and aah over it because it is FABULOUS. I love, love, love it and am so glad I put in the extra effort to do all that piecing and quilting. If you’re thinking about making this bag, I highly recommend checking out Bari’s fantastic sew along.

Funky Baguette

As I flip through my ever-growing pattern collection, I often wonder if I’m in need of an intervention. So many patterns, so many intentions and yet so little follow through. For instance, I’ve had an Echino purse pattern since 2008 and even bought the fabric but never got around to making it. Why?

In part, because the pattern is in Japanese. This may surprise you, but I can’t read or speak Japanese. Shocking, right? But the Japanese craft books and patterns usually are so detailed with diagrams that it’s really not necessary to be able to read the accompanying text.

Except this pattern. There’s one little diagram that I just wasn’t sure I understood. I finally took another look at it and realized my confusion: The little wiggly line means to gather the section between the arrows. And the diagram on the pattern sheet shows to gather the fabric to an opening of  29cm. Woooo!

And thus my newest purse came into being:

Kokka Baguette

The body of the bag is a fun, new linen/cotton blend from Kokka, part of the new Trefle line. My favorite bright colors+sewing images? LOVE! I lined it with an aqua and white gingham from the Michael Miller line Mini Mikes. The tabs and strap are made with the MM Cotton Couture line of solids (which I am so loving).

All told, I think the bag took maybe 90 minutes to cut and sew. My strap is a little longer than the pattern piece and I also made mine a little different (I cut it four times the finished size and folded it like bias tape, with a touch of Decor Bond to interface). I did mess up the tabs on the first go and these aren’t quite right, either. I also left two pins underneath one of them and had to work them out through the seam. Oops!

I usually don’t like bags without interior pockets but this silhouette doesn’t really lend itself to pockets. Fortunately the size it perfect for my must-have items so I don’t really need any pockets inside. I can seriously see myself making several more of these. Next time I want to use some of the Kokka ready-made strapping.

Playing with Patchwork

I had a bunch of squares left from some Christmas presents I made, so I decide to put them to use and make a little bag I’d been mulling over. No pattern. No idea if it would turn out. Just arranging and sewing and crossing my fingers.

Overall, I like it. It’s not a huge bag but just big enough to wear on a park outing or to an art festival. The strap is sewn in such a way that it lays flat against me while keeping the bag flat against my hip, too.

I lined the exterior of the bag with fusible fleece and like the somewhat cushy feel it adds.

The only thing I really wish I’d done differently is the zipper. It’s too short and keeps me from opening the bag as widely as I’d like. Of course, I was trying to use what I had on hand and the zipper seemed to work nicely with the fabric.

Just a fun, practical little bag that I think will make a nice addition to my gift-making repertoire.

The Purse That Wasn’t

During my visit to Quilting Adventures, I picked up the cutest little purse pattern. The Ellie purse by Bunny’s Designs. They had the cutest sample sewn up, made with some great Japanese fabrics. I could not wait to sew up one for me.

As I was sewing the purse, I had an epiphany: the Ellie is designed for kids.

Don’t ask me why it took so long to figure this out. After all, I actually checked out an actual bag made with this pattern. Held it in my hands, turned it inside out. Duuuuuuuh.

(Luckily for me, Bunny’s Designs has a grown-up version — the Julia — which I now own.)

I made the not-my-purse with some of that fun Kawaii Asian fabric from Robert Kauffman. Just love the colors! I’m fairly certain I’ll make the big version for me with the same fabric.

Had I actually had the proper size of zipper on hand, I would have gotten the bag done in about an hour. Yep, it’s just that quick. Believe it or not, it’s basically all one piece. Just a cute little clamshell of a purse.

That little miss of mine has insisted on carrying it everywhere for the past week or so, and it’s stuffed full of her treasures. With any luck, I’ll be filling my own soon.